Taking a joyous and often emotion-charged stroll down memory lane with some of our best-known faces is always a privilege for TV presenter Julia Zemiro.

Indeed, it’s little wonder that the amiable host of Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery jumped at the chance to traverse the nation with a new and diverse group of celebrities for the fifth series of the much-loved ABC program.

For the seasoned TV presenter and comedian knows that surprises are always in store during these remarkably personal journeys back in time. Certainly, that was the case when Zemiro accompanied multi-award-winning actor Sam Neill to his childhood home in New Zealand’s picturesque South Island for a particularly poignant debut episode of the latest series.

“Sam just loved so much where he came from that he wanted to share it,” says Zemiro. “He wanted to point out how someone who came from Ireland could start a new life at seven in New Zealand. He’s someone who has thought a lot about life and where he’s from.

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Julia and Sam Neill in Dunedin, New Zealand

“This episode was a bit of a dream for me to do because Sam is so open and he is this incredible natural storyteller. There aren’t many guests who say while we’re filming ‘Okay, you be me and I’ll be my dad!’ But we were acting this out, which was such fun to do but also quite revealing.”

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Cathy Freeman will be joining Julia for an episode of 
Home Delivery

Zemiro, who will also be joined on the road this year by Olympic gold medallist Cathy Freeman, TV heavyweight-turned-senator Derryn Hinch and Men At Work lead vocalist Colin Hay, says she has learnt to be a better listener over the years.

“Now I know just to ask the question and shut up,” she says with a laugh. “I try to make people feel comfortable enough to open up and I try to be really present with them.

“I’m finding with our older guests that they’re reflecting a lot more on the past and that they have the wisdom to analyse what went right or wrong.

“When they go back, they may want to purge or reveal or explore what happened and why it happened. All of a sudden, other things come tumbling back to remind them further of their childhood and then they’re often surprised and delighted. It’s incredible that they allow us to witness it.”

Does Zemiro still have a guest wish-list for the show?

“If I had an international person I’d love to interview, it would have to be Bjork and for her to take us through Iceland,” she says. “In terms of where you grew up shaping you and who you are, the landscape of Iceland is so much in her music and her brain, as well as how she dresses and acts. And I’d love to take Julia Gillard back to her beginnings.”

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Fellow ABC presenter Annabel Crabb will jump in the car with Julia this season

Zemiro, who also hosts TV’s popular music quiz show RocKwiz and SBS’s coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest, is clearly loving life.

“This is a dream job for me,” she smiles. “I do feel very fortunate. I’ve always liked to be a slow quiet achiever.”

Having spent much of her life in Melbourne, Zemiro is now happily settled in Sydney with her “lovely” Danish partner Carsten.

“Carsten’s not in the industry, but he’s genuinely interested in what I do,” she says. “He’s so lovely when people come up and completely push him out of the way and go ‘Hi, can I get a photo?’ He’s really happy in himself.”

And Zemiro is looking forward to celebrating her own special milestone this year – her 50th birthday in April.

“It sort of just feels like a number,” she says. “I have my health and I definitely don’t take that for granted. I’m aware that I’m in good shape and I feel really lucky in every way.”

Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery returns to ABC on Wednesday, February 1 at 8pm.

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